Sebring, Florida, December 6, 1999 - Rookie driver Alexandre Tagliani of the Player's CART Team went through his first official testing session today on the Sebring road circuit, impressing observers with his ability to adapt to his new car.
As a rookie in the FedEx CART Championship series, Tagliani is entitled to four days of extra testing sessions. He will be on the track in Sebring again on Tuesday before heading to the road course in Homestead, Florida for tests on Wednesday and Thursday. His teammate Patrick Carpentier, who's entering his third season with the Player's CART Team, will be testing later this month.
"Right now, our main objective is to provide Alex with lots of track time so that he gets comfortable in the Champ car," explained Toronto's Phil LePan, who is on site supervising the sessions of the Lachenaie, Que., driver. "Adjusting is a lot tougher than it might seem. For example, the braking areas and downshifting are quite different than what he's experienced so far in Atlantic.
"It's going to take some time but Alex is already showing a lot of potential. He even managed to improve his time (52.43 seconds) over his testing last September (53.0 seconds)," added LePan.
Tagliani expressed his satisfaction with the first-day results of the testing, which was conducted with the Player's Reynard '99 car, powered by the Ford-Cosworth 99 engine, since the 2000 package is still a few weeks away from delivery.
"Even though the new cars will be a bit different, these first laps on the track are important to get me accustomed to the Champ car," remarked Tagliani, who ran for more than 60 laps on the 1.65-mile circuit. "We made a few small adjustments as the day went on and I'm already feeling a lot more confident than I did during my last testing here, when I was more conservative and cautious.
"The Player's crew is really working hard to help me get used to the various set-ups, particularly in regard to the downforce, which will be greatly reduced with the 2000 package."
On Tuesday, Tagliani will have the opportunity to share the track with American driver Richie Hearn, who was on hand today but did not take to the track for testing.